24,009 – Much Ado About Quite a Lot

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Following an eleventh hour takeover of this site by the royal family of Abu Dhabi, I’ve been appointed caretaker blogger for one day only. Kevin Keegan will be here tomorrow.

And having struggled womanfully through this in what I believe cricketers call a Nelson – 1:11 – that’s one hour and eleven minutes, before anyone falls off their chair – I now know why Peter opted to take the day off. He must have known something.

Some brilliant work in this puzzle, and most of it difficult to unravel. I found the NW corner especially challenging. 1d I’m still unsure of, and 18d I simply can’t explain – I know something’s going over my head there. Explanations welcome from those of you sitting at the front.

Q-(tentative 1),E-9,D-9


1 SE(D)AT,IVE – D for duke in his (country) seat + I’ve, sedative being something that quietens.
5 HOOP,L,A – ‘Pooh’ reversed + L(eft) + a
9 QUAD R(UP)ED – ‘up’ meaning ‘in revolt’
12 IN(SAN)ER – san(itorium) inside a liner with no pointy end
14 LADY BRACKNELL – (card blank yell)* – Augusta being the forename of Wilde’s formidable matriach.
16 RUNNING SCARED – cryptic def. This clue makes me a bit uncomfortable.
20 C(LAUD+I)O – Claudio is the idealistic lover and betrothed of Hero in Spokeshave’s Much Ado About Nothing
21 RIS(I+BL)E – sorry, lads, the barrel’s empty
23 PI+ETA – What’s a Grecian urn? About 50 drachmas an hour. Definite quibble on this, flagged by rosselliot. An initial position ‘e’ would normally be transliterated as epsilon, not eta.
25 T(IT,I)AN – as in ‘Titian red’


1 S(EQUIN) – I’m assuming the EQUIN is ‘equine’ (the noun) minus the final ‘e’, but as for the ‘S’… is it ‘spectator’ reduced to its initial? Or ‘seer’ minus e’er?
3 THRO,NED – def. is ‘in high chair’
4 VIPERS BUGLOSS – VIP + (Bruges)* + ‘loss’. Plant of the Echium genus in the family Boraginaceae. In the light of the exchange of comments below, a better rendering might be: VIP + [(Bruges)* supported by ‘loss’]
6 OUTLOOK – ‘Look out!’ reversed. Very, very clever play on ‘elements’.
7 PRO,O(F)READ – An Oread being a mountain nymph in Greek mythology. Did I do the Grecian Urn gag?
17 IN(DIA,NA) – (an aid)rev. Gary, Indiana gave the world Michael Jackson
18 ROSE-CUT – Like the bear in 5ac, I am of very little brain, and thus cannot be expected to explain this clue. My thanks to anon for the explanation: the heart of ‘prosecute’, as in ‘sue’.
22 B(R)ILL

38 comments on “24,009 – Much Ado About Quite a Lot”

  1. I was a little over an hour on this too but maybe I wasn’t in the best frame of mind to tackle such a challenging puzzle and I can’t say I enjoyed it much. I was left with 6 or 7 queries to check on arrival at the office. All(ah)of which are now resolved.

    QED: 0 – 6 – 8.5

  2. 14:51, and with four correct but unexplained. Thanks to Sotira and anon for clarifying.

    I really liked “Greek PE” for PI-ETA at 23. Not so happy with “X losing almost everything” meaning the first letter of X in 1D. If that is how the clue works.

  3. This one certainly whacked up my average finishing times – 55 minutes – and even then with many doubts.
    I am lost in admiration for the brain-boxes above who have kindly resolved them for me.
  4. Too good for me, I had 4 or 5 left after 30 mins, mainly in the NW. Some very good clues among the ones I solved, 3D was my favourite, one for harassed parents.

    Tom B.

  5. >1hr for me too.

    I’m sure it’s come up many times but what exactly is the Ximenean demarcation for compound operations? In this effort we had the beautifully conceived ‘outlook and ‘rose-cut’, which both required an intermediate, i.e. lookout! and prosecute. I’m aware that indirect anagrams are a defo no-no, i.e. the anagram of a synonym of the clue. The formation of ‘outlook’ certainly has morphological(?) cogency but rose-cut is perhaps less (ahem) clear-cut albeit aesthetically pleasing.

    Botany: The moan is simply that it seems (along with the pesky pisces) to occupy an inordinate amount of space. A stat analysis from Jimbo?

    1. Haven’t got into this one yet – awaiting lunch break – but these comments prompted me to take a shufty.

      OUTLOOK: I’m OK with that one.
      ROSE-CUT: Hmm, not sure. “Wins” as the “leads to this answer” indicator, “Sue” with a capital letter, compound operation needed to identify that element. Three devices which, singly, might be deemed acceptable if a smidgin questionable – but all three together?

      It’ll be interesting to see what other bloggers make of it.

      1. Much the same opinion – mainly because I understood LOOK-OUT/OUTLOOK with a minor quibble about ‘changing’ for ‘changing order’, but wrote in ROSE-CUT with no understanding except ‘type of diamond cut, I think’. As Anax says, it’s the build-up of trickiness that does the damage.

    2. I see Anax just beat me to the punch, as I was writing: Peter B said he hoped to pop by at some point today. I’m going to leave it to him and to Anax and others with more expertise than I to address your query about “Ximenean demarcation for compound operations”. Botany certainly gets a jolly good airing in the Times puzzle. For the linguistically curious, venerable plant names offer rich pickings, ‘bugloss’ (Medieval, from Greek for ‘ox tongued’) being a case in point. Personal, I rather enjoy the education since I regret my botanical ignorance, but it’s a contentious area.
  6. 1 hr 15 mins for me. Difficult. Nothing one can really complain about as unreasonable, though no doubt the cryptic Taleban will be unhappy about the botanical and literary specialist knowledge required at 4 dn and 14 and 20 ac. I too thought 15 dn was COD, though I also liked the sneaky use of “quieter” as a noun in 1 ac, which took me a while to spot.

    Michael H

  7. In passing, I see that the Telegraph has started doing ‘Telegraph Toughies’ in their paper,as well as the regular cryptic. Do not be fooled – the two to date have been ridiculously easy.
    1. I’ve tried a couple of these “toughies” too and solved each one in roughly half my time for this puzzle (One single-letter mistake on an obscure answer excepted – I claim that my mistake is a forgiveable one, but I would, wouldn’t I?). Based on very limited experience I’m not convinced that they’re harder than the hardest ‘normal’ Telegraph puzzle of each week, but those who normally solve the DT puzzle may get different mileage.
      Or maybe that’s as hard as they’re meant to be – I don’t think I’ve seen a printed statement about the intended level of difficulty.
      1. I’ve solved the first two of these ‘toughies’. I thought the difficulty of each was comparable to an easy-ish Times day (I think my times were 6 minutes yesterday, 5 and a bit today) but that the quality was far higher than most of the normal
        Telegraph puzzles (ditto the enjoyment factor).

        I hope this series continues but wouldn’t want to see them replace the usual Telegraph puzzle, which remains the best broadsheet puzzle for beginners – though not as good as the Sun two-speed crossword, in which (at least sometimes) the (easy) ‘Quick’ definitions are always a part of the equivalent ‘Cryptic’ clue, which is a really good idea and must enormously help people cutting their teeth on cryptics to dissect the cryptic clues.

  8. One of those rare occasions when I’ve found a puzzle far easier than others. I found most of this very straightforward and finished in under 25 minutes. The only clue that gave me trouble was 23a. I first wondered whether “Greek” was some weird anagram indicator and thought the answer might be “sepia” ( a sepia print could be a work of art, then wondered if the answer was “opera”, only getting the correct answer when I got CRACKPOT. Incidentally, does this really work? Isn’t the consequence (noun) of overheating a kiln a “cracked pot”?
  9. Quite a struggle, the best part of 30 minutes for me. It could have been less but I took the time to pause and unravel wordplay after entering answers which I assumed must be right. Took a long time to spot PIETA, quite a self-kick moment.

    I have to say I had a few quibbles along the way. Dyste is quite right about CRACKPOT – something along the lines of “Ludicrous to suffer the consequence of…” would have been more sound. “Support” as the container indicator at 4D isn’t so much far-fetched as unfairly misleading when the solver would be looking at component A being underneath B. ROSE-CUT has already been mentioned, and as a matter of personal taste I’m not keen on subtractions as at 8D where the removed “AH” is indicated by a definition.

    Some very good moments as well; OUTLOOK is good for a COD nom but I’ve gone for 25 for the neat connection of the theme.

    Q-3 E-7 D-8 COD 25

    1. I’ll offer a defence of 4d. I read it sequentially as ‘worthy’ followed by ‘loss’ supporting (Bruges)*.
      1. Quite right – my apologies to the setter. Must be a case of spotting a couple of dodgy moments and looking for (inventing in my case) others.
  10. Well done Sotira – a great effort on a revolting beast. The other day somebody was surprised that I hadn’t moaned about something obscure. Today I will live up to their expectations.

    For me “p(ROSECUT)e” clued as “wins Sue’s hear” is far too indirect and is unfair. I solved it only by guessing once I had R?S?C?T and then eventually reverse engineering it. I’m also not a fan of s=spectator losing almost everything. There are lots of ways of clueing “s” and this strikes me as taking things too far. I also feel the use of “support” at 4D as an insertion indicator is going too far. It’s a juxtoposition down indicator.

    The thing is also loaded with obscurities. I’m quite good on plants but don’t recall vipers whatsit before and OREAD is hardly common parlance. Beside these CLAUDIO and LADY B sink into insignificance and the clues at least make for reasonably straightforward derivation.

    It took me about an hour to solve and understand these clues and I finished it only because I was determined not to be beaten, not because I enjoyed it.

  11. Soewhere between 30 and 40 minutes (I stopped the stopwatch for an interruption but forgot to restart at the right time) with wizard assistance for viper’s whatnot.

    Q-0, E-6, D=8.5

  12. Like sotira, I’m out of my depth here. What exactly is a “compound operation” and what is the objection to it? I’ll wait for Peter B or one of the other top gurus to explain.

    In the interim, I’m with anax on finding OUTLOOK acceptable at 6 dn. At 18 dn, I read “wins” not as “leads to this answer” but as a synonym for “takes”, so the answer simply requires you to “take” the internal letters out of PROSECUTE = sue. Sue with a capital letter was sneaky, I agree, but a red herring of a type not infrequently encountered.

    Michael H

    1. Just to be clear: “Compound operation” is “apply instruction to a synonym for something, instead of applying it to the something” – e.g. “heart of Sue”, rather than the U in sUe, is the ROSECUT in the middle of prosecute=sue.
  13. I take the points made by anax and dyste re 15 dn, and certainly their objections could easily have been pre-empted by re-wording the clue along the lines suggested by anax. Consequence is, of course, a noun, but does that mean that the result referred must also be? One can imagine as sentence such as: “A consequence of over-heating a kiln is that you CRACK[a/the]POT”
  14. I think, along with sotira, that the use of “support” in 4 dn can be defended. As I read it, the setter is not telling us to place an anagram of BRUGES between VIP (worthy) and LOSS (failure) – in other words, “support” is not intended as an insertion indicator. Rather the setter is saying: after VIP add anagram of BRUGES supported by LOSS, which produces the same result but by a different cryptic route.

    Michael H

    1. I’ve had another look at 4D and now agree with the above comments and thus withdraw my criticism of the clue.
  15. Is the wordplay meant to indicate ‘CRACK on POT’, or ‘POT with CRACK’? Or is that too fanciful?

    Tom B.

    1. I think part of the issue is that we can’t tell and we should be able to work out the wordplay once we have the answer. I think it’s just loose clue construction with the “?” at the end thought sufficient to excuse its shortcomings.
  16. I’m with most people, NW corner a beast (even containing one), but I saw QUADRUPED clued in a similar way recently, so that helped with 1d from definition (had to be either LIQUID or SEQUIN), and that got me SEDATIVE and I was home in 24 minutes. ROSE CUT also a guess from definition, CLAUDIO from wordplay. I liked 7D.
  17. Iagree that the North west was frontier territory…i found the sequin clue ridiculous particularly spectator losing almost all to give S. i was fooled by the noun quieter…all in all a very tough nut to crack in my view
  18. Greek PE = PI ETA? I don’t think so.
    Greek PE = RHO EPSILON. Where does that leave the clue?
    1. Double grumpy, since I’d quickly spotted “SEPIA” – Greek (Anagrind) “PE is a”. A sepia is an art print in photography. Needless to say this was not helpful.
    2. Only if you read the letters P and E as characters in the Greek alphabet. Given that the Times prints all clues in the Roman alphabet, that would be an unlikely reading. If you read “Greek PE” as an instruction to render P and E into Greek, the standard outcome would indeed be ‘pi,eta’. More sympathy with the ‘sepia’ reading, which makes complete sense. It just doesn’t fit with 14 and 15 down.
        1. I’m no Greek scholar but the dict. (Collins) says epsilon is transliterated as e, eta as e with or without macron (overbar). So eta seems a fair interpretation of “Greek E” though not the only option.
        2. Apologies to Ross re. the ‘e’. I was focussed on the P, which is fine, but didn’t attend to the ‘e’. It’s certainly true that, with an initial letter (as in ‘exercise’), ‘e’ would normally become epsilon. So the clue is indeed loose and deserves a notch on the ‘quibble’ count.
  19. 16:57 for this – got something like 5,21,23-36 Across and 3,8,15,17,22 Down fairly easily, but crucially, none of the long answers, so there was then a longish pause and a rish of answers at the end. Had met VIPER’S BUGLOSS somewhere and also discovered that bugloss is “bewgloss” rather than “bug-loss”, the bugl- deriving from ‘bugle’ or the same roots. OREAD for ‘mountain nymph’ was also recognisable. Took a while to see Augusta Bracknell.

    1D: I didn’t mind “losing almost everything” – this for “all but first character” seemed like a match with the fairly well-known “first character only” for ‘bit of X’ convention.

    Also didn’t really mind ‘crack pot’ at 15.

  20. Took an hour plus a bit, and for me the NE corner was the toughest. In fact I worked through the left side first, but eventually got going. I didn’t get the wordplay for OUTLOOK and ROSE CUT until I read it here. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this as being quite a challenge. For what it’s worth, I agree 15D has a problem, but not one that would prevent solving. Same for 23. The viper plant at 4 is obscure, ‘oread’ is too. Beyond that, I’ll leave the fairness discussion to the veterans. Best to all.
  21. In more than one sense with OREAD nymphs, an unused TITAN at 25a, HERO, albeit Shakespearean, at 20a and the formidable Lady B from a relatively modern classic play at 14a. This was a really good challenge with some new vocab / GK clued in a gettable way. Well done setter.

    There are eight “easies”:

    11a Swimmer’s brisk pace round bend (5)
    TRO U T

    13a Sister swallows almost all hot drink, and she eats fast (7)

    24a At first, secondary schooling not a temptation (9)

    26a Rally, but beaten without mercy (8)
    BRUTALLY. Anagram of RALLY BUT.

    2d Pulls grass up (5)
    SWARD => DRAWS. Reminds me of Dennis Moore riding through the sward. On his horse Concorde of course.

    8d Following God? No expression of surprise, anyway (4,3)

    10d He has urgent message: kill clause of bill (8,5)
    DISPATCH (kill) RIDER (clause of bill).

    15d Ludicrous consequence of wrongly heating kiln? (8)
    CRACK POT. Heat kiln wrong, crack pot. Get message?

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